Our design philosophy

For us, design is the art of weaving together business processes, services, products, expectations and visions.

We look at markets, cultures, trends and technologies and work on semiotics (the messages a design or brand sends), user needs (how products and brands can fit into the life of consumers), design structures (how designs are created, structured and built) and systems (setting up innovation processes and strategies to create successful products).

We are are metadisciplinary, seeing design as a process running on several channels. These channels – products, spaces, services and media – have to interact in meaningful ways to create brand impact and enable meaningful user experiences.

The core of our approach is to solve real-world complexity through design by strategically placing it into its particular social, cultural, technical and environmental context.

If an interaction inspires people to learn something they did not know, a product contributes to improve lives, or a brand inspires new viewpoints, then we can call it “good design”. Ultimately, design should translate the situations we encounter in life into meaningful products and experiences.

About Mario Gagliardi

Mario Gagliardi is principal of Mario Gagliardi Design.

As Chief Designer at LG, he created one of Asia’s most successful cosmetic brands. As consultant for the Korean government, he helped to kickstart the Korean design sector. As advisor of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, he developed the design strategies for the innovation of education in Austria. As CEO at Qatar Foundation, he laid the conceptual groundwork for the architectural design of the sustainable urban renewal of Doha. Mario founded penccil, the independent social medium for the global creative community. Mario was appointed professor at HongIk IDAS University (Seoul, Korea) and at Aalborg University (Denmark).


Mario’s father, Eugen Gagliardi, was head of the institute of anorganic and analytic chemistry at the University of Graz. At the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Mario studied under two of the most influential designers of the 20th century: Alessandro Mendini and Richard Sapper. Mario’s work is influenced both by Alessandro Mendini’s interest for exploring different cultures and formal expressions, and by Richard Sapper’s interest for technical innovation. Mario’s first design in the master class of Alessandro Mendini, his “philosophical cupboard”, was published in the authoritative book on design group Studio Alchimia, Alchimia: Contemporary Italian Design by Kazuko Sato (ISBN 3892680337).

He started his career as industrial designer at Philips in the Netherlands, where he designed lifestyle, personal care and household products. Mario was one of the first product designers embracing digital innovation, working on the first Atari and Commodore computers and experimenting with tangible computer surfaces. In 1989, he was awarded the design prize of architecture magazine Domus with the very first digitally designed textiles for Italy’s prestigious textile manufacturer Somma. In 1990, he was awarded the first three prizes at the Austrian Post Shop design competition and was selected for the Austrian national design award. Mario then designed luxury products for prestigious department stores such as Takashimaya (Japan) and Bergdorf Goodman (USA).

In 1995, Mario worked as consultant for the Korean Institute of Design Promotion, the government organisation of the Korean Ministry of Industry and Energy, to help building the new Korean design sector. He then led the very first master class of industrial design as professor at the new International Design School for Advanced Studies, now part of Hongik University. Finally, he was appointed as Chief Designer and Head of design strategy at the LG headquarters in Seoul. As the first non-Korean in a senior management position at LG, Mario developed a range of successful products and brands such as O Hui and The history of Whoo. The history of Whoo is Korea’s fastest growing cosmetics brand, now generating a yearly revenue of 1.4 billion US$ in the Asian market. Mario’s work was awarded the Good Design Mark of the Korean Republic. Mario also worked as advisor and instructor for the Innovative Design Lab of Samsung, where he developed future technology scenarios and worked with Samsung Design Membership to shape Samsung’s future design strategies.

Upon returning to Europe, Mario joined a workshop led by Andra Branzi at Domus Academy in Milan. He then moved to London and graduated with an MBA with Merit at the University of Westminster. From 2000, he worked as advisor for the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, where he developed the design strategies for the innovation of education in Austrian schools and universities and developed an ecosystem which increased the use of e-learning in Austria from below 10% to over 90% within 5 years. In Austria, he also inspired the design efforts of glass crystal manufacturer Swarovski to help defining its global presence.

In 2007, Mario taught as professor at Aalborg University. With an article series for the Danish Designers Association, he shaped a new understanding of design by defining the new fields of experience design and generative design. From 2008, Mario served as CEO at Qatar Foundation in Doha, where he laid the conceptual groundwork for the architectural design of the sustainable urban renewal of Doha. In 2012, Mario founded the social network and visual culture sharing platform penccil to promote knowledge and reflection on creative expression, design and the arts.

Mario conducted workshops at institutions such as the PDMA (Product Development and Management Association), Hong Kong Design Centre, Qatar Foundation and German Design Council, gave keynotes at congresses such as Innotown (Norway), the Era 05 World Design Congress, the International Council of Design Week, the European Academy of Design Conference, and DNA Paris, and gave lectures at London Business School (London), University for the Creative Arts (UK), VCU (Qatar), Sapienza University (Rome), Bosphorus University (Istanbul) and Tsinghua University (Beijing).

Selected publications

Among his theoretical contributions to design, innovation and business strategy are the cultural analysis framework for branding and design (Design Management Review, 2001), metaphors of brand management and touch-points for brands (Identico, 2005), the concurrence of design integration and economic development stages (Danish Design Center, 2005), the first definitions of experience design and consumers as co-creators (Danish Designers, 2007) and the analysis framework for transformations, territories, frames and uses in the Digital (The Design Journal, 2017).